AFLW Round 4 – Richmond v Geelong: Elle Dorado

As soon as the doors shut at Fawkner Library we buzzed up the Calder with cheese pies from Coburg for the quiet eldorado that is Queen Elizabeth Oval. The elms comely, the turf verdant, the gates and paving on View Street have that GFC stimulation-package on steroids feel, the regeneration positively radiating out of the ground in all directions, across the pool to Rosalind Park, down the hill towards the gallery, and have you seen Bendigo Hospital lately? Incredible.


This is perfect for the meeting of the two power bases of Richmond, the metropolitan chapter and its Sunraysia cousins. I can tell just by the way the cars are stacked up the hills in the surrounding streets (there’s a sort of country freedom about them, and the premiership stickers as window-tinting) that there’s a good whack of Swan Hill in attendance. We should do this more often.


We took our seats in the second row of that most elegant grandstand, gatecrashing what was described on laminated posters at the end of each row as a VIP Event. Not sure who we were depriving, maybe a couple more National Party MLAs in Akubrae, though Champion Data had about 20 per cent of the entire stand reserved for invisible people as well. I note here that Peggy O’Neal later took her seat three rows behind us, whom I do not begrudge whatsoever. We were grateful one and all for the shade and the sublime view across the wing. A good grandstand makes you feel like you’re hovering over the midfield like a drone or a Spidercam, a feeling I have been waiting to put into the right words since I first experienced it at a Preston match in 1996.


The game starts brightly, Wakefield cancels out their early goal and we remain well in the contest. The heat is spinning players through the bench. Monique Conti is everywhere, showing an abundance of football intelligence as well as skill, but Geelong begin to dominate, closing out the quarter a couple of points up despite having squandered a couple of decent chances.


They belt us for the first few minutes after the restart, but we manage to keep scoring, to keep hanging on. Wakey gets her second. Two 50 metre penalties to the goal line, not to mention a gross imbalance in free kicks in Geelong’s favour, threaten to kill it by the end of the first half though.


Every ball-up takes two or three repeats to clear because of the tackling intensity. I think this is one of the areas where our first-year status hobbles us the most: Geelong (like North and Carlton in previous weeks) are subtly quicker with their hands or else they sit off the ball-player and then win a tackling free to break the deadlock. That said, their midfield is not a bad unit.


Our players turn into trouble, go inside when they should go outside. Apart from Monahan, the backline is nervous on the ball. And our one genuine winner is too fast for the team; twice Conti has to retrieve her own ball because her teammates are not quite quick enough for her in thought or action. But I’m starting to love this team.  It’s not Sabrina but Wakey who’s now our towering power forward. (Try saying that in a comedy Margaret Thatcher voice.) You hear the players calling each other by first name, which sounds very respectful and almost tender and is how we barrack too (though I do like to scream ‘Wakey’ when the mood takes me.) I’m most excited by our wingers Molan and Campbell, especially Grace Campbell. She has fantastic balance and power and just gets the ball. She’s only a half-step away, maybe a season away. And Alice Edmunds, if you’ll excuse a men’s team comparison, is turning into a Soldo-type, bobbing up and doing good football things now.


The Nationals got a little testy when Richmond piled on the last four goals of the third quarter, but the Gee-long chanting became more strident as the final quarter was ground out and my last impression was yet another dubious 50 metre penalty, this time against Makur Chuot for running to hand-deliver the ball to her opponent after a free was awarded.  I don’t think the Geelong player even bought it, she immediately played on and roosted it to centre-half forward without using the free meterage.


With kick to kick settled, we wandered past the change rooms whereupon we stumbled upon the entire team, like a scene from Sirens, in recovery mode in the adjoining public baths: going through stretches in the slow lane, eating wraps out of tinfoil, chilling. To say there was a dream-like quality to this scene probably conjures the wrong impression, but, for example, we couldn’t even find an attendant to pay our kids in for the diving board, the whole facility lushly deserted.


Sidestepping some unrelated drunken male nudity on Barnard Street, we made our way to dinner at the Cambrian Hotel where the cinematography was perfect: late-summer goldfields light, tall gums towering over diminutive wooden cottages, illogical North Bendigo undulations and the crisp whiteness of the dunny, where a print hung of Sid Nolan’s full forward in his nascent Gold Coast Suns guernsey. Eldorado indeed, these early days of the league feel golden.


RICHMOND    1.1       3.1       6.1       7.3 (45)
GEELONG        1.3       7.4       9.7       10.7 (67) 


Richmond: Wakefield 3, McClelland, Bernardi, Jacques, Frederick
Geelong: Clarke 2, Cranston 2, Darby, Higgins, Teague, Garing, Purcell, Crockett-Grills 


Richmond: Conti, Wakefield, Monahan, Brennan, Molan, Campbell
Geelong: Purcell, Cranston, McWilliams, M.McDonald, A.McDonald, Crockett-Grills


Richmond: Brennan (head/neck)
Geelong: Higgins (wrist)


Geelong: Nil
Collingwood: Nil


Reports: Nil


Crowd: TBC at Queen Elizabeth Oval



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A Tigers fan still trying to make sense of everything.. Two kids in the EDFL, another Year of Living Vicariously. I've spent a long time weighing up social media platforms and have finally settled on the Almanac. I like loads of stuff.


  1. The crowd Mike was just under 5,000.

    4,906 to be precise.

    AFLW was fortunate it was such a great day weather-wise.

    Three girls had central Vic.or Bendy connections. Two with Richmond: Grace Campbell and Kodi Jacques, who hails from Heathcote.

    And the Cats’ Jordan Ivey whose father David is a four-time South Bendigo premiership player.

  2. Michael Nichols says

    Thanks, Edmund. Fantastic crowd. I had heard about the two Richmond locals on Outer Sanctum. Jacques got a big reaction for her goal, though all goals are being celebrated pretty fervently right now. It’s such a great ground and a justifiably proud football region.

  3. Ben Fenton-Smith says

    What a beautiful match report Michael. You’re right about the Monique Conti situation. I remember Dale Weightman commenting on handballs hitting him in the back of the head in the post-82 era and he thought “oh no, this is not going to be good” (and so it turned out for 37 years … don’t think the girls will take that long but).

    The pubic baths scene – wow, one is unsure how to comment, except to say a reference to the sports rorts scandal may have been opportune (but would have no doubt spoiled the dreamlike quality). May I also say that the final paragraph is one of the finest we’ll read on the Almanac this year. I don’t know if anybody will better Sid Nolan in a dunny in a Gold Coast jumper combined with goldfields light, tall gums, and a family meal in a country pub.

    You’re also right about this being – ironically – a golden period for the league. The very thing some dickheads slam this league for (it’s so-called sub-pro level) is something we’ll all miss if they become like the men and are on zillions of dollars but completely disconnected from us normal people.

    Finally, on nicknames (“Wakey”), fwiw I say “Chotty” for Akec Makur Chuot. Works for me in the heat of battle.

  4. Michael Nichols says

    Thanks as ever, Ben. You would get a lot out of the Cambrian, not a football pub per se but definitely fit for purpose. It’s anything you want it to be.

    I think with nicknames they’re best used like swear words – sparingly, otherwise they lose their force, but you’re right that certain emotions call for them. I can just hear the cries of ‘Burn them, Chotty’ as she tears through a pack off half back. The use of first names is a gentle coaxing, a kind of beseeching to improve. For example, I don’t remember ever calling Paul Bullus ‘Bully’, it was always Paul.

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